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February 2023

Perceived pitch class of isolated musical triads.

Author(s): Racine, RJ

Journal/Book: J-Exp-Psychol-Hum-Percept.. 1990; 16: 415-28.

Abstract: A paired-comparisons task was used to determine which note of a pure-tone triad sounded most similar to the triad. Musically inexperienced Ss showed no systematic preference, experienced Ss consistently preferred the highest note in the triad, and professional musicians split equally between preferring the highest note and the root note. Preference for the root note shifted to preference for the highest note as the triad type became increasingly inharmonic, suggesting that the former depended on inference of a missing fundamental. When Ss were asked to vocally reproduce the pitch they heard when listening to a triad, similar results were obtained, except that a root-note preference was not detectable in Ss with less musical experience. Preference for the root note was also facilitated by use of octave-replicated tones, and this increase was shown to be due to obscuring of pitch-height cues, rather than harmonic complexity.

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